I was having lunch with Kate recently, and she was concerned that she might be a sexual freak.
"There's something wrong with me," she insisted. "I am just way too sexual. It's not normal." Then leaning forward, she added softly, "I can remember having sexual feelings as a kid! I'm talking, like, a little kid!"
I turned my head and gave her a squinting, sidelong glance.
"I'm pretty sure that's normal," I told her, nodding slowly. "Human beings do experience sexual sensations long before puberty."
She bit her lip. "Really?"
"Oh, hell yeah," I said, hoisting myself atop my soapbox. "Although there are plenty of people who'd deny it, because the idea of a sexual child disturbs them. But it's totally natural, and it has nothing to do with abuse or exploitation. Children are sexual beings and they're capable of having feelings of arousal all by themselves. I hate that society wants to make it so shameful. That's what leads to perversion and abuse. Like priests and stuff. All that denial. Demonizing the urge."
She gnawed through two french fries, one after another, then asked:
"So…how young is normal?"
I shrugged. "Well, I don't know. I'm not a child psychologist." Then I thought for a moment. "But I do have a story that might make you feel better. About me, when I was a kid."
Her face brightened, a signal to continue.
"O.K., well, I was just thinking about this recently. I was trying to decide if my sexual experiences have any place in my memoir because, you know, it's one of those major themes of human life – sex. So I brainstormed a list of major sexual moments and realizations and stuff, and I actually remembered my earliest experience of arousal. I was four years old."
Every day when I came home from kindergarten, I watched a line-up of after-school TV that went exactly like this:
The Brady Bunch
My favorite Monkee was Davy Jones. He was so impish and seemingly harmless, and he had the dreamiest deep brown eyes and a perpetually glossy lower lip made for kissin'. And I knew every Monkees song by heart, even if I didn't understand the romantic sentiments and light socio-political jabs I was parroting.
When the TV station started advertising a Monkees double album, I begged my mother to order it for me. (You get not one, but TWO volumes of the Monkees' greatest hits, all for just $4.99! Call now!)
Beginning the very next afternoon, and on a daily basis for weeks, I asked my mother if my Monkees records had come in the mail yet. And she'd tell me, "They say it takes 4-6 weeks, sweetie," or "But there's no mail today, it's Sunday."
Then one day the mailman left a slip of paper in our mailbox to tell us we had a package waiting at the post office.
"I think that's somebody's Monkees album!" my mother sang. "We'll have Daddy pick it up on the way home from work!"
I remember being irked that it took him three long and torturous days to get his butt to the post office. But 32 years later, I still have a perfect picture in my mind of my dad as a young man with a Burt Reynolds moustache pulling open the screen door and stepping into the tiny front foyer of our Northeast Philadelphia row house, holding a square, flat brown paper package under one arm. Obviously, a moment of significant emotional impact to have stuck with me like that in Technicolor. Davy Jones had come home to me, wearing nothing but a thin wrapping of tree pulp.
In my bedroom, I played "Cuddly Toy" on the plastic record player again and again, until the disk bore a pale, circular ribbon where the needle had worn down the vinyl of that one track by two shades of gray.
I kept the album cover propped up where I could see it. It was white with the red Monkees logo in one corner, and scattered pencil sketches of the Monkees' faces, each about the size of my little palm. The artist had captured Davy's angelic good looks to swoon-worthy perfection.
I was also a big fan of The Brady Bunch, so when Davy Jones made his guest appearance on that now-famous episode, I was positively riveted to the console TV in our living room. Transfixed, not by the television's own Pledge-polished gleam or the stylish faux-ironwork insets flanking its watery screen – no. It was all about Davy.
As he crooned somewhat cross-eyed into the recording studio microphone dangling above him, I thought he looked even cuter than he did on The Monkees. There was something different about him. Longer hair, perhaps. That, coupled with a quiet, roguish sophistication that could only come from having shed the dead weight of the (in my little girl's opinion) three inferior Monkees. Gone was the bowl haircut, gone the goofy faces made at the camera to zany, rubbery sound effects. This new Davy was subtle, and spoke straight to the loins.
The episode was nearly over and Marsha had tried everything to reach Davy Jones and convince him to sing at the school dance. She sat, dejected, as a nattily-dressed Davy appeared at the door behind her and was escorted quietly into the living room to Mrs. Brady's obvious delight.
"Marsha, there's someone here to see you."
Oh my god! Davy Jones – he'd come to see Marsha!
Left alone together on the couch, Davy coyly suggested to Marsha that he needed a date for the dance – and did she know anyone who wanted to go with him?
"Do I!" Marsha cried, and she leaned her body forward and kissed Davy Jones on the cheek.
Do you hear me? She threw all caution and decorum to the wind! She lifted her body closer to his, brought her face to Davy's own sweet hairless face, and placed her moist and eager lips upon his cheek. On his flesh. She put her mouth on his face. Not that far away from his mouth.
The four-year-old me found this incredibly hot.
But it wasn't over.
Davy received this bold kiss without complaint. Accepted it, see, as though he wanted it. And his eyes locked onto her face and followed it as she drew her head away from his, post-kiss, and sat down again. Yes, he watched her withdraw, eyes twinkling with a touch of the devil. Wow. And then, parting those plump, moist lips, he spoke.
"Well! How 'bout the flip side?"
….did you catch that? Davy Jones asked for MORE!!!
Davy Jones wanted her to do it….AGAIN!!!
And he just plain ASKED FOR IT!!!
Ohhhhhhhh. Oh, holyMarymotherofGod.
That moment of his asking – that seemingly innocuous, lightly-delivered "How 'bout the flip side" was the single most erotic moment of my half-day kindergarten pencil box-toting life.
To the extent that a four-year-old kid can be hot n' horny, my friends – I was.
A deep longing, like a length of rope tugged between the depths of my belly and my someday-womb -- there it was. Arousal. Because Marsha Brady took the initiative -- whoa! Baby! No holding back! And because Davy Jones wanted more, and wasn't afraid to say so.
So don't tell me little kids don't feel the urge.
Or maybe, like Kate, I'm just way too sexual. Like, abnormally so.
Nah, I don't think so.
Hey, thanks for hanging on through the end of the story. But did you really think you were in for the sordid details of Kate's inflamed libido?
Hah! Cheeky monkey, you.